Monday, February 28, 2011

Lost Encyclopedia - Paul Terry and Tara Bennett

Okay - I fully admit it - I am a die hard Lost fan. But, I never watched it on television. (Lots of channel switching, avoiding articles and covering my eyes and ears...) Instead, I always asked for the latest season on DVD for Christmas.  And Christmas 2010 brought the final chapter to this intricate addictive show. 

But - I will be starting from the beginning again - yes one of the few shows I will re watch. And accompanying me this time will be the Lost Encyclopedia.

It's the ultimate reference for fans - a 400 page coffee table book filled with over 1500 glossy colour photos and very, very detailed information...

Each and every character that appeared, however briefly, is profiled - including all the passengers on the original flight. Some of them, I didn't even realized appeared on all seasons, such as Cindy the flight attendant. Of course, the main characters are covered in great detail, their connections on and off island and just about anything connected to their story. So many connections that I had forgotten or overlooked on my first watch.

It's not just the people covered either. Each of the Dharma stations is profiled as well as the other settings such as the camps. As someone who works in a library, I was always fascinated by what Sawyer was reading (I think my favourite was Are You There God, It's Me Margaret by Judy Blume) and the book references. All covered, as is the music, the Dharma Initiative food brand, the animals, the nicknames Sawyer used for everyone, the meaning of the hieroglyphics at the temples and of course those famous numbers. (Can you list them?) And soooo much more! Lot of obscure minutia to be found - the ingredients for those Apollo candy bars include yak butter and mouse toes.

Quoting the executive producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse:
"What you saw on television, the show itself, was the ten percent of the iceberg above the water. But the majority of our time in the writer's room was spent constructing the part below it. The details. The timelines. The intricate backstories of the passengers of Oceanic 815, not to mention the people who inhabited the island long before them. Then we put them altogether and let what happened, happen.

Now that the show is over, there has been great curiosity in our process...a desire to see those details in 'offical' form....And so now you hold the first and only official LOST ENCYCLOPEDIA."
See for yourself - get a peek inside the Lost Encyclopedia.

Definitely the definitive guide to own for fans of Lost. And now if you'll excuse me, Season 1, Disc 1 is waiting.....

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Winner - Altar of Eden

And the lucky winner of a copy of Altar of Eden by James Rollins, courtesy of Harper Collins is:


Congratulations! I've contacted you by email for your mailing address. Please respond within 72 hours. Thanks to all who entered - check the sidebar for ongoing giveaways.

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Midwife of Venice - Roberta Rich

The Midwife of Venice is Roberta Rich's debut novel. And it's one I wouldn't have discovered on my own - so, thanks Jessica for the great recommendation!

Hannah Levi is a midwife in the Jewish ghetto of Venice in 1575. When a Christian nobleman asks her to attend his wife, she initially refuses. After all, it is forbidden by law for a Jew to give care to a Christian. But he is desperate - his wife has been labouring for 2 days and is near death. Against the wishes of her rabbi, Hannah agrees - the nobleman has agreed to pay an exorbitant fee. That fee will allow Hannah to buy back her husband Isaac, who has been captured and forced into slavery in Malta.

The Midwife of Venice is full of rich historical detail - the social mores and customs of the time, religious differences and a fascinating look at midwifery. The chapters alternate between Hannah in Venice and Isaac in Malta and their continuing struggle to be together. Isaac's chapters are just as full of historical detail, but the characters in these chapters seemed a little overdrawn, such as the nun who buys Isaac. It is Hannah and her tale I enjoyed the most. Her character came to life on the page.

Rich has successfully combined history, suspense and romance into a fascinating page turner. My only complaint - it ended too soon! But it looks like a sequel is in the works - I'll be picking it up for sure.

Read an excerpt of The Midwife of Venice. For book clubs - there is a reader's guide.

**Congratulations to Roberta Rich - The Midwife of Venice is #8 on the Globe and Mail hardcover bestseller list!**

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Over the Counter #43

What caught my eye this week as it passed over my library counter and under the scanner? Books iwth big numbers on the covers! First up was 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die edited by Robert Dimery. I was actually kind of suprised at how many I knew!

From the publisher Universe Publishing - a division of Rizzoli Publishing:
"This latest addition to the best-selling 1001 series offers more than ever— the world’s biggest and best playlist, referencing over 10,000 must-download songs. This book offers more than any previous book in the series. While each main entry profiles and illustrates 1,001 primary songs, it places that song into a contextual web of music history with references to other songs that are musically related. Thus, each entry points to alternate versions, covers, riffs, and influences effectively expanding the total number to 10,000. From the Beatles to Beyoncé, from Elvis to Elvis Costello, from Frank Sinatra to Rufus Wainwright, the full spectrum is covered chronologically and includes additional ancillary lists of "must-hear" songs grouped by subgenre and other special categories. Each song is analyzed by an international team of critics who explain why you must hear it. Included are key details such as lyricist, composer, producer, and label, making this a music treasure trove perfect for anyone into music, addicted to downloading, or those just getting started."

And the next up was 1000 Ultimate Experiences from Lonely Planet.
From the publisher Lonely Planet:

"Want to know where the greatest markets are or the best value destinations? 1000 Ultimate Experiences brings together 1000 ideas, places and activities to inspire and entertain for travellers and lovers of life-lists alike. Get inspired and start ticking off those boxes of places you've always wanted to see and things you've always wanted to do. Who knows where you'll end up!

•Sleep under the stars in a Bedouin tent in Jordan
•Find out the best beaches to swing a hammock
•Jump on board the Ghan for a trip through Australia's remote Red Centre
•Spot Banksy's art in Bristol
•Come on, get happy in Bhutan"

(Over the Counter is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World. I've sadly come the realization that I cannot physically read every book that catches my interest as it crosses over my counter at the library. But... I can mention them and maybe one of them will catch your eye as well. See if your local library has them on their shelves!)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Q&A with Eleanor Brown - The Weird Sisters

I am thrilled to have Eleanor Brown, author of The Weird Sisters stopping by today for some Q and A!  This debut novel is garnering lots of press - it was a five star read for me.

Have you always aspired to be a novelist? If you weren't writing what would be your chosen path in life?

I haven't always wanted to be a novelist, but I have pretty much always wanted to be a writer. I grew up in a family that prized reading, and to me writing is just being a part of that conversation. I'm so lucky to have been able to make that part of my life on a large scale.

For a living? Wow. I suppose I'd still be doing something with reading - being a bookseller or a librarian. Occasionally, though, I do get these wild hairs to do something completely different, like become a manicurist or open a cheese shop. That kind of fantasy is good for the soul, I think.

I'm sure you have been asked this in every interview so far, but please indulge me! Where did the idea for The Weird Sisters spring from? Why Shakespeare?

Writing a novel, at least for me, isn't about a single inspiration. It's like (and forgive the cliche) rolling a snowball down a hill. So I started off with wanting to write a story about three very different sisters that explored the idea of birth order, and then other ideas started attaching themselves to that core - what it means to be an adult, whether redemption is possible, what to do when you are asked to do the thing you think you cannot, and eventually I had a novel.

As for Shakespeare, I can't remember where exactly in the snowball that came, but I was thinking about my characters' names and the way our names shape who we are. And then I wanted to write about the way families communicate, and I thought about how this very literary-minded family might speak in the words of authors. And voila, Shakespeare!

And how did you choose the quotes you used?

The quotes came in a mixture of ways. When i was doing the initial research, I made a list of great lines I came across, or ones I thought might relate to topics in the novel. And some of those I used, but more often than not I'd hit a point in a scene where I'd need a quote and didn't have quite the right one, so I'd go scrambling back to my Complete Works and scour until I had something workable.

It was extra tricky because part of the point of their communicating in these quotes is that they are completely out of context, so I couldn't search topically, I had to go more by the right words that could be taken out of context. I also made a point to avoid many of the most commonly quoted lines, so I couldn't fall back on "Out, damned spot!" every time I needed something.

I see that you are the youngest of three sisters. Did you draw upon any of your own experiences in writing The Weird Sisters? What do your sisters think of the novel?

If I hadn't grown up in a family of three sisters who happened to fall fairly strictly into the birth order stereotypes, I don't think I would have been interested in writing this particular story. But the Andreas family are all their own, and they don't bear much resemblance to my family at all.

I'm fortunate that I've heard nothing but supportive things from my family. My parents still live near Washington, D.C., where I grew up, and when The Weird Sisters hit a local bestseller list, I joked that it was because my parents had bought all the copies in the area.

The books lying about, the fantastic idea that a library card can solve anything ( I work in a public library!) all speak of someone who loves books. Was/is this true of your home? Any authors that have influenced you? What do you enjoy reading?

Oh, book lovers and librarians are my very favorite people! My parents really taught me to love books and reading - taking me to the library every week, giving me books as gifts, talking to me about literature and writing and reading to me. Like the Andreas family, I will read just about anything in a pinch, but I will stop traffic to get to a new book by Alice Hoffman, Pat Conroy, Stephen King, or Maeve Binchy. I love each of them for different reasons, but I just can't put their books down.

Are you surprised by the reception that The Weird Sisters has enjoyed?

I think shocked is more like it! As a writer, you live so much in your own head that it's kind of startling when people you don't know start talking to you about something you created. I kept my expectations modest, so everything feels like a wonderful surprise.

But what's underlying the shock is gratitude and happiness - I'm so grateful to the readers who enjoy the book and tell other people about it. And I'm happy that the book I wrote as an attempt to understand some things in my life is speaking to other people as well. It's just amazing.

I'm really looking forward to your next book - can you tell us anything about it?

Wow, thank you! I am totally superstitious about talking about works in progress, but I have been doing a lot of thinking about love and marriage and divorce. We'll just have to see where that takes us!

Eleanor, thank you so much for taking the time to stop by!

Thank you so much for inviting me to visit, and thank you even more for the gorgeous review of The Weird Sisters you posted. I'm unbelievably touched.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A Red Herring Without Mustard - Alan Bradley

A Red Herring Without Mustard is the third book of Alan Bradley's Buckshaw Chronicles.

I fell in love with Flavia De Luce - the 11 yr old protagonist in Bradley's award winning first book - The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. (my review)

Flavia, her two older and (according to Flavia) odious sisters live with their preoccupied father in a crumbling mansion in 1950's England. Flavia has ensconced herself in the east wing, home to an ancestor's formidable chemistry lab. Flavia is enthralled by all things scientific, but especially poisons.

 A Red Herring Without Mustard opens with Flavia stopping in at the fortune telling booth at the local church fete. Startled by the Gypsy's pronouncement, Flavia inadvertently sets fire to the woman's tent. In an effort to make amends she drives the elderly woman and her caravan to camp on her family's estate. However, when she goes back to check on her (being Flavia) in the middle of the night, she finds the woman near death from a beating. Having saved her life, Flavia sets out to discover who the dastardly perpetrator of such a nasty deed could be. The plot thickens as seemingly unrelated events muddy the waters. Plenty of red herrings abound.

I've said it in past reviews of Bradley's books and I'll say it again. The mystery is always fun, but it is the character of Flavia that enthralls me. She is old beyond her years, with an indomitable spirit and her inquisitive mind is always entertaining!

"Still, because the old boy deserved it, I gave Uncle Tar's portrait a brisk Girl Guide salute, even though I'd been drummed out of that organization, quite unfairly I thought, by a woman with no sense of humor whatsoever. 'Honestly, Miss Pashely, I'd have told her, had I been given half a chance, 'the ferric hydroxide was only meant to be joke.'"

" I had long ago discovered that when a word or formula refused to come to mind, the best thing for it was to think of something else: tigers, for instance, or oatmeal. Then, when the fugitive world was least expecting it, I would suddenly turn the full blaze of my attention back onto it, catching the culprit in the beam of my mental torch before it could sneak off again into the darkness. Thought-stalking, I called the technique, and I was proud of myself for having invented it."

In this third offering though, there seems to be a bit of a chink in her armour. She is still trying to come to terms with her mother's absence and this makes her a little more real and vulnerable. More of a personal note has been injected into this third offering.

What's the appeal of an eleven year old protagonist for adults? Well, for me - I always wanted to be Harriet the Spy and outwit the adults.  Bradley has created an utterly original, engaging character in Flavia. Trust me - these books are absolutely addicting reads that end far too quickly. I'll be eagerly awaiting the next in the series - Seeds of Antiquity.

Get a sneak peek - read an excerpt of A Red Herring Without Mustard. Or join the Flavia fan club!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Giveaway - So Close the Hand of Death - J.T. Ellison

I have a copy of J. T. Ellison's newly released Taylor Jackson thriller - So Close the Hand of Death  - to giveaway this week.

What's it about?

"Across America, murders are being committed with all the twisted hallmarks of the Boston Strangler, the Zodiac Killer and Son of Sam. The media frenzy explodes and Nashville homicide lieutenant Taylor Jackson knows instantly that The Pretender is back...and he's got helpers.
As The Pretender's disciples perpetrate their sick tributes – stretching police and FBI dangerously thin – Taylor tries desperately to prepare for their inevitable showdown. And she must do it alone. To be close to her is to be in mortal danger, and she won't risk losing anyone she loves. But the isolation, the self-doubt and the rising body count are taking their toll: she's tripwire-tense and ready to snap.
The brilliant psychopath who both adores and despises her is drawing close. Close enough to touch...

With her beau, FBI profiler Dr. John Baldwin, So Close the Hand of Death follows a revenge-filled Homicide Lieutenant, Taylor Jackson, in her battle to stay strong and remain sane while fighting with the one person she’s out to get."

 Get a sneak peek - read an excerpt of So Close the Hand of Death. You can find J. T. Ellison on Facebook and on Twitter as well.

One copy up for grabs, open to US and Canada. Simply leave a comment to be entered. Ends Sat March 12 at 6 pm. EST. Good luck and check the sidebar for ongoing giveaways.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Winner - To Have and to Kill

And the randomly chosen lucky winner of a copy of To Have and to Kill by Mary Jane Clark, courtesy of Harper Collins is:


I've contacted you by email for your mailing address. Please respond within 72 hours. Thanks to all who entered - check the sidebar for ongoing giveaways.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Devil's Star - Jo Nesbo

I read my first Jo Nesbo book a couple of years ago (The Redeemer) and absolutely loved his recurring character - Detective Harry Hole. Nesbo is a an award winning Norwegian writer whose books are making a splash in North America as well.

The Devil's Star opens with a deliciously drawn scene that starts the book in a most unexpected way.  With no one else to call on, Inspector Moller sends Harry Hole to the scene - it looks like a minor incident. It turns out to be anything but....

Seemingly random victims are turning up in various parts of Oslo, with phalanges missing and star shaped diamonds left with the bodies at every scene. Harry is still on the case, but must answer to Tom Waaler - a cop Harry suspects of being very dirty, but he can't prove it.

Nesbo has created an incredibly intricate and very clever plot, one with twists and turns I didn't see coming at all. Just when I thought the story was going right, it quickly veered left. There are many players and each has a story to tell - both cops and suspects. Nesbo fleshes each of these out with lots of detail that makes for an incredibly absorbing and fulfilling  read. The action is non stop and the story is told at breakneck pace. Short chapters from the killer add to the tension.

But it is Harry that makes this series so enjoyable. Harry is the walking wounded - his alcoholism has cost him the woman and child he loved. Moller has covered for him for many years, but can't any longer. The one thing that has driven him all these years has been his work. He is a brilliant detective, making connections that others miss. Is his career to end? What then?
"The clock above the door showed 9:15. The day had hardly begun and Harry already felt drained of energy, like an old, dying lion who hung back from the pack when once he could have challenged the leader. Not that he had ever nurtured ambitions of leading the pack, but things had taken a nosedive anyway. All he could do was lay low and hope that someone would throw him a bone."

Just a fantastic series. If you enjoy Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch series, you would love Harry Hole. For all those new fans of Scandanavian writers, you'll want to read Nesbo.

Check out what others on the TLC Book Tour thought.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Over the Counter #42

The latest two books to catch my eye as they passed over my library counter and under my scanner this week were both about bento boxes - something I'd never heard of before. Seriously cute food in a cute little box.

First up was Yum-Yum Bento Box by Crystal Watanabe and Maki Ogawa.

From the publisher Quirk Books:

"Oh, boy-obento! These cute, yummy, healthy lunches are all the rage in Japan, where mothers think of them as an expression of love for their children. Yum-Yum Bento Box is one of the first cookbooks in English devoted to these healthy and adorable meals–they’re fresh, they’re tasty, and they’re almost too cute to eat!

Each step-by-step recipe in Yum-Yum Bento Box is simple and adaptable. Readers will learn how to form their favorite foods into a variety of shapes-from zebras, panda bears, and monkeys to kitties, piggies, and puppy dogs. Chapters include instructions for classic bento boxes and character-driven bentos (called Kyaraben), plus shopping advice, general tips and tricks, and much more. Stop wasting money on prepackaged lunches-and start making beautiful, healthy bentos!

CRYSTAL WATANABE makes bento boxes for her two preschool-aged children; her Web site “Adventures in Bento Making” is a popular forum for bento makers worldwide. MAKI OGAWA is a mother whose bentos have been featured in many Asian magazines. She lives in Japan."

And Kawaii Bento Boxes - Cute and convenient Japanese Meals on the Go. by the Joie Staff.

From the publisher Japan Publications:

"More than 70 ideas for making portable meals that are as much fun to look at as they are to eat-and they're not just for kids.
A bento box meal (single portions of different foods packed in one reusable container) is a Japanese tradition that lends itself well to today's busy lifestyle. Although bento boxes are available to take out from restaurants and food stands, they are most frequently prepared at home, very often by parents wishing to provide their children with delicious, healthy, fun-and environmentally- responsible-lunch and snack-time alternatives.
Kawaii Bento Boxes offers dozens of recipes and menus. For each box, the authors include detailed instructions for cooking, seasoning, decorating and assembling the components as well as an icon indicating how long it will take to prepare. The meals are not just easy to make, they are tasty, nutritious and economical, with each portion carefully calculated so that there are no leftovers. There are also suggestions for the right container for each meal. Most of the ingredients used are familiar and available to North American cooks. Here are whimsical creations like soccer balls and animal faces made from shaped rice, tulips cut from dyed hardboiled eggs, hearts and stars carved out of vegetables, and much more. Perfect for parents looking to liven up their children's school lunches or park snacks, or for busy people who want to fix a quick and cheerful meal to take to work, Kawaii Bento Boxes highlights the Japanese passion for making food a treat for the eyes as well as for the mouth."

(Over the Counter is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World. I've sadly come the realization that I cannot physically read every book that catches my interest as it crosses over my counter at the library. But... I can mention them and maybe one of them will catch your eye as well. See if your local library has them on their shelves!)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Giveaway - 21 Day Weight Loss Kickstart - Neal D.Barnard MD.

So....did you eat all your Valentine chocolate already? (And you're eyeing up those Easter bunnies that are out there already?) Here's a giveaway you might be interested in. 21 Day Weight Loss Kickstart by Neal D. Barnard, MD.

From the publisher The Hachette Book Group:

"For years, Dr. Neal D. Barnard has been at the forefront of cutting-edge research on what it really takes to lose weight and restore the body to optimal health. Now, with his proven, successful program, in just three short weeks you'll get fast results-drop pounds, lower cholesterol and blood pressure, improve blood sugar, and more. With Dr. Barnard's advice on how to easily start a plant-based diet, you'll learn the secrets to reprogramming your body quickly:
Appetite reduction: Strategically choose the right foods to naturally and easily tame your appetite.
Metabolism boost: Adjust eating patterns to burn calories faster for about three hours after each meal.
Cardio protection: Discover the powerful foods that can help reduce cholesterol nearly as much as drugs do in just weeks.

Whether you are one of the millions who are anxious to get a jumpstart on weight loss or who already know about the benefits of a plant-based diet but have no idea how or where to start, this book is the kickstart you've been waiting for. Complete with more than sixty recipes, daily meal plans for the 21-day program, tips for grocery shopping, and more, this book will teach you how to make the best food choices and get your body on the fast track to better health."

Two copies up for grabs, open to US and Canada, no po boxes please. One win per household. Closes Sat. March 1st at 6 pm EST. Good luck and check the sidebar for ongoing giveaways.

Get a head start - read an excerpt.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Weird Sisters - Eleanor Brown

Eleanor Brown's debut novel The Weird Sisters is an absolute gem. I was hooked from the first few pages. And as I turned the last, I sat quietly and savoured the story in my mind.

Cordelia (Cordy), Bianca (Bean) and Rosaline (Rose) Andreas are three sisters all named after Shakespearean characters by their father, who is a Bard scholar.

"We wear our names heavily. and though we have tried to escape their influence, they have seeped into us, and we find ourselves living their patterns again and again."

An event in each of their lives has each of them heading home again...
"We came home because we were failures. We wouldn't admit that, of course, not at first, not to ourselves, and certainly not to anyone else. We said we came home because our mother was ill, because we needed a break, a momentary pause before setting off for the Next Big Thing. But the truth was, we had failed and rather than let anyone else know, we crafted careful excuses and alibis and wrapped them around ourselves like a cloak to keep out the cold truth."
Each is surprised and not overly happy to find the others there. "See, we love each other. We just don't happen to like each other very much."

What follows is an absolutely mesmerizing story of the complicated relationships between sisters, between parents and children and the search each sister undertakes to find herself and her place in family and life.
 "Who would Bean be if she dropped her beautiful mask? Who would Cordy be if she stepped up to the plate in her own life? Who would Rose be if she weren't the responsible one anymore?"
Brown's characters fairly leap off the page - I could hear their dialogue and picture their actions so clearly. (And maybe hear some of my own sisters' words as they spoke...)

Brown has a way with words. Some of her descriptive passages had me reading them twice...."Bean pulled a heavy towel form the stack of laundry, unwinding it from the lascivious position it had gotten into with a pillowcase."

The Andreas family are lovers of  the written word. They often connect (and dad most often) by quoting Shakespeare passages. "Our family has always communicated its deepest feelings through the words of a man who has been dead for almost four hundred years." Their home overflows with books, often laying about half finished, picked up and read by the next person to pass by. And there's nothing that can't be solved by having a library card. (!)

The Weird Sisters is written in first person plural style. This took me a bit to get used to and I found myself trying to determine who was narrating for the first little bit. But it seemed to work - it seems as each sister is contributing to the narrative, instead of just one of them.

This one was a five star read for me - one to recommend to the women in your life - sisters, mothers, daughters and friends. (Books clubs would love this one too)

Read an excerpt of The Weird Sisters. You can find Eleanor on Facebook as well.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Winner - The Girl in the Green Raincoat

And the lucky randomly chosen winners of a copy of The Girl in the Green Raincoat by Laura Lippman, courtesy of Harper Collins Publishers are:

1. Christina
2. pinkflipflops

Congratulations! I've contacted you by email for your mailing address. Please respond within 72 hours. Thanks to all who entered - check the sidebar for ongoing giveaways.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Private - James Patterson & Maxine Paetro

James Patterson and Maxine Paetro have teamed up again for their 8th successful collaboration. Private is the first in a new series featuring former Marine Jack Morgan. Morgan inherited both money and his business from his incarcerated father. The name of the firm? Private.

With money being no object, Morgan is able to hire the best in every field. Private's  forensic labs are better than many law enforcement agencies. And discretion is the word at Private, as they cater to high profile cases.

Private has three cases running at the same time in this initial outing. Jack's best friend's wife has been murdered. A look into her background uncovers she's not the woman her husband thought. The owner of an NFL team approaches the firm to investigate possible corruption at a crucial level. And last but not least, some sicko is killing young schoolgirls - 18 to date. The local police force agrees to let the Private firm assist them with this investigation. (This stretched believability a bit)

I have been listening to all of Patterson's books now. I find that they're pretty good entertainment in audio format. Nothing to tax your brain, but a story that does keep you engaged while leaving your hands free. All the prerequisites for a classic Patterson are there - suspense, killers, a personal storyline, romance/sex and short chapters with cliffhanger endings. Although the name dropping was meant to let us know that Jack moves in certain circles, I found naming celebrities more than once simply gratuitous.

I liked the Jack Morgan character and the book ended with an opening to a sequel, which I would listen to. The support team is an eclectic bunch, some with secrets of their own. I did have to laugh when one of Jack's love interests turned out to be a bonny colleen from Ireland. The same character with a different name appears in the Det. Michael Bennett series.

Peter Hermann was the reader. He has an excellent speaking voice, clear and easily understood. His voice radiates emotions easily. And he did a passable job with that Irish colleen!

All in all, a good listen. Hear for yourself. Or watch the book trailer.

Patterson and Paetro's next collaboration - 10th Anniversary - a Women's Murder Club book is due out May 2/11.

The Hachette Book Group has reissued Private in a unabridged value priced edition releasing Feb. 22.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Death Instinct - Jed Rubenfeld

I was intrigued by the description of Jed Rubenfeld's latest book The Death Instinct:

"On Sept.16 1920, a horse-drawn wagon carrying 100 pounds of dynamite and a quarter-tone of cast-iron slugs exploded in front of the Morgan Bank and the New York Stock Exchange - in the very heart of New York's Financial district. More than 400 people were killed or injured. It was the deadliest bombing in the nation's 150-year history - and was the first terrorist attack on American soil. To this day, the reason for the bombing - and its perpetrators- remain a mystery. In The Death Instinct, Jed Rubenfeld offers the thrilling story of what happened on that day."

My first thought was to wonder if this event truly happened or if it was a great fictional idea. Well, it really happened. Jed Rubenfeld has taken numerous factual historical events and combined them with his idea of what may have happened. Many significant historical figures are also 'brought to life' including Madame Curie, Sigmund Freud, and prominent politicos of the time.

The Death Instinct features the two protagonists from Rubenfeld's first novel - The Interpretation of Murder - (I hadn't read this one) - Dr Stratham Younger and NYPD Captain James Littlemore. I was initially enthusiastic about this pair - especially Littlemore- his powers of deductive observation reminded me of Holmes. As the story continued though, I felt I never really engaged with the two of them. We are privy to some of what drives them and some personal moments, but these subplots felt extraneous. I felt as though they were only the vehicle to get to the next piece of  the plot.

And there were many, many parts to the plot. A few too many perhaps.  I finished the book as I wanted answers to some of the more baffling occurrences put forth. At 464 pages, the story seemed too drawn out.

Rubenfeld wrote his undergrad thesis on Freud and he draws upon this knowledge to espouse many of Freud's theories. I must admit, I found them a little tedious after the first few initial analysis.

Where this novel shone for me was in Rubenfeld's historical research and his theory of what may have transpired. There are interesting parallels to today's headlines.  An okay, not great read for me.

But that's just my opinion. Check out what others thought on the TLC tour. Or read an excerpt of The Death Instinct.

(an interesting side note - Rubenfeld is the husband of author Amy Chua, whose book Tiger Mom has been making some news)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Over the Counter #41

Well two books caught my eye this week as they passed over my library counter and under my scanner. Cakes from two very different points of view...

The first is Cake Wrecks by Jen Yates.

From the publisher Andrews McMeel:

"Have your cake and laugh at it, too, with the sweet treat known as Cake Wrecks: When Professional Cakes Go Hilariously Wrong. From the creator of the ultrapopular blog, here are the worst cakes ever, including the ugly, the silly, the downright creepy, the unintentionally sad or suggestive, and the just plain funny. With witty commentary and behind-the-scenes tidbits, Cake Wrecks will ensure that you never look at a cake the same way again.

Since May 2008, Jen Yates has been blogging about such confectionery calamities at her popular Web site, winner of the 2008 Blogger's Choice Award™ for Best Humor Blog, and three 2009 Weblog awards (Bloggies™) for Best Writing on a Blog, Best New Blog, and Best Food Blog. Yates now offers up this inspired photo collection with over 150 Cake Wrecks, including 75 percent never-before-seen content."

And at the other end of the spectrum is Cake Boss by Buddy Valastro.

From the publisher Simon and Shuster:

"In this heartfelt memoir, master baker and star of the #1 hit TLC show, Buddy Valastro tells his inspiring story—and recounts his family's warm memories from a lifetime of living, loving, and cake making.
Television viewers have fallen in love with Buddy Valastro, master cake maker, and his funny and fiery family, proprietors of Carlo's Bakery in Hoboken, New Jersey, on the smash hit TLC series Cake Boss. Now, to coincide with Carlo's 100th anniversary, cake designer extraordinaire Buddy Valastro brings together his passion for baking and his high-energy family stories in the pages of this charming, heartwarming book—complete with 25 recipes and tips that will make every reader the "cake boss" of their own kitchen.

Buddy's beautifully designed cakes are the stuff of legend—and so is the remarkable story of his father, a beloved pillar of the community and himself a talented baker who set the stage for his family's rise to the pinnacle of their industry. Cake Boss recounts the story of Buddy's life and of his family's bakeshop, originally established in 1910 and now a Hoboken, New Jersey, landmark and culinary tourist destination. Here also are twenty-five recipes for Carlo's Bakery's most sought-after pastries, pies, cupcakes, and cakes, an irresistible combination of time-tested old-world recipes and modern creations, all founded on a rock-solid "old-school" baking foundation and classic techniques.

This is the incredible true story of how Carlo's Bakery came to be, how one hard-working family realized their patriarch's dream of making their beloved bake shop a household name. The special bond and loving dynamic of the Valastro clan make this an uncommonly touching and truly inspiring memoir."

(Over the Counter is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World. I've sadly come the realization that I cannot physically read every book that catches my interest as it crosses over my counter at the library. But... I can mention them and maybe one of them will catch your eye as well. See if your local library has them on their shelves!)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Giveaway - Altar of Eden - James Rollins

Thanks to the generosity of Harper Collins, I have a new mass market copy of Altar of Eden by James Rollins to giveaway.

From the publisher:

"Baghdad falls . . . and armed men are seen looting the city zoo. Amid a hail of bullets, a concealed underground lab is ransacked—and something horrific is set loose upon the world.

Seven years later, Louisiana state veterinarian Lorna Polk investigates an abandoned shipwrecked fishing trawler carrying exotic caged animals, part of a black market smuggling ring. But there is something disturbingly wrong with these beasts—each an unsettling mutation of the natural order, all sharing one uncanny trait: incredibly heightened intelligence.

Joining forces with U.S. Border Patrol Agent Jack Menard—a man who shares with her a dark and bloody past—Lorna sets out to uncover the truth about this strange cargo and the terrorist threat it poses. Because a beast escaped the shipwreck and is running amok—and what is about to be born upon the altar of Eden could threaten not only the future of the world but the very foundation of what it means to be human. "

Read an excerpt of Altar of Eden.

Simply comment to be entered. Open to US, Canada and International. Ends Sat. Feb. 26th at 6 pm EST.

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Help - Kathryn Stockett

The Help by Kathryn Stockett is a novel I've heard nothing but good things about, but haven't read yet. Resident guest blogger Julia has - and it's one she is passionate about! After this review, I have to read it. Thanks for lending me your copy Julia!

"I told Luanne I would write a review of The Help for her blog, because I absolutely loved this book. When I finished it, I did not want to start another book because I didn’t want to let go of these characters. I wanted to keep them with me for just a little bit longer.

However, I find I am having trouble describing all the emotions this book arouses. Let’s start with a description of the plot. The book is set in Jackson, Mississippi in the 1960’s. A time when the light was shining on long-held beliefs and practices like segregation, and “northerners” were coming to Jackson to try to show them another way to do things. As with all great social change, there are still people living their lives, and trying to figure out where they fit in their changing society. This book is the story of three women living in Jackson: two maids, Aibileen and Minny, and one privileged white women, Skeeter. As the world around them starts to show the people of Jackson a different way of doing things, Skeeter starts to question her friends, and most particular Miss Hilly, the chair of the Junior League. Skeeter hatches a plan that she hopes will launch her career as a writer. She plans on writing a book about the experiences of black maids, and Skeeter and Aibileen manage to convince a number of the maids to tell their stories to Skeeter.

From the first page of the book the reader is wrapped in the language and accents of the three women whose stories become intermingled. Stockett moves easily from the accents of Minny and Aibileen, to that of Skeeter and the other white women. There are some touchingly funny moments in the book, as we learn about the relationships the maids have with the children they care for, who eventually become their bosses. Not to give anything way, just know that “toilets” are discussed several times throughout the book.

When we read about Jackson, Mississippi in 1960 it is hard to believe that the world was like that, just 50 years ago. The maids were not allowed to eat at a table with white people. If a maid was out in town during work hours, they had to be dressed accordingly (in their white maid uniform). Slavery had been abolished, but little else seemingly had changed.

There has been criticism of this book – some saying this is just another book by a white woman trying to explain the black experience. I think the important message from the book is about women and their relationships. How situations can throw people together to form unlikely friendships and support systems. Stockett has written a book about great change in the southern states, in an entertaining, personal, and intelligent manner.

I repeat what I said at the beginning; I love this book and have no hesitation recommending it!

Read an excerpt of The Help.  The movie version of The Help will be released in August 2011.
What a great review! As always, thanks Julia!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Get Energy - Denise Austin

I have been reading Get Energy by Denise Austin off and on for the last couple of weeks now. I was expecting sound advice on exercising and eating right, but I was pleasantly surprised by the wider scope Austin has taken. In fact she herself states that Get Energy is not an exercise book, but is a "book about empowering your body and loving your life and tapping into the volcano of energy within you . Energy involves not just what you eat and how often you move, but how you think, how you choose to feel, and how well you take care of yourself, body, mind and spirit." Having been sick a lot this winter and being sick of winter, I found her advice quite constructive and motivating. Just what I needed to give myself a kick start to revisit my goals.

The book starts off with a look at what is zapping your energy, with some great questions. Based on your answers, some of the following chapters are recommended for the areas you need to focus on the most.  But I found all of them worth reading.  Changing your outlook, balancing life, finding pleasure in every day and powering up at midlife were the chapters I most identified with.

The third part of the book is a great two week plan, laid out with suggestions and alternatives to change your existing habits to ones that will help invigorate you throughout the day. This section is great and one I'm going to utilize.

There is a section on stretching included as well as some interesting little 'revive in five' and peace pocket boxes scattered throughout the book with great ideas to stop and revitalize in a short amount of time.

I really enjoyed this book and will be rereading it again and certainly putting into practice many of the positive ideas presented. Most of them are simple and doable. We just have to start!

 Read an excerpt of Get Energy.

You can find Denise on her website, Twitter and Facebook.

And thanks to The Hachette Book Group, I had three copies of this wonderful book to giveaway. Those winners are:

1. cookster 77
2. jholden
3. ladydoor1

I've contacted you by email for your mailing addresses. Please respond within 72 hours. Thanks to all who entered - check the sidebar for ongoing giveaways.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Over the Counter #40

The latest book to catch my eye as it passed over my library counter and under my scanner this week was Drives of a Lifetime - 500 of the World's Most Spectacular Trips. There are quite a few Canadian entries - some of them I've already driven and a few I had already made plans for later this year.
From the publisher National Geographic Books:

"Both a practical guide and an inspiring travel gift book, Drives of a Lifetime highlights 500 of the world's best car trips. The eclectic list takes readers across stunning natural landscapes of mountain, coastline, glen, and dale; into charming towns and out-of-the-way hamlets; to palatial estates, lovely gardens, and intriguing historic sites; and through bustling, thriving cities all over the world map. From America's scenic byways to the side lanes of Tuscany and the rugged dirt roads of Australia's outback—and hundreds of inviting routes in between—Drives of a Lifetime shows off the highlights of each area and tells readers exactly how to make the drive themselves. Since roads trips are a beloved cultural touchstone for Americans of every generation, Drives of a Lifetime will capture a huge and diverse audience." Peek inside.

(Over the Counter is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World. I've sadly come the realization that I cannot physically read every book that catches my interest as it crosses over my counter at the library. But... I can mention them and maybe one of them will catch your eye as well. See if your local library has them on their shelves!)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Three Seconds - Roslund & Hellström

Scandanavian authors have just exploded on North American reading lists following the runaway success of Stieg Larsson's books.

Finished that series and looking for another? You've got to try Three Seconds by Anders Roslund and Börge Hellström from Sweden. This pair are Sweden's number one crime writers. Here's the interesting thing - Roslund is an award winning journalist and Hellström is a an ex con. The combination of their talents and viewpoints have made their books a hit. Three Seconds was the Best Swedish Crime Novel of the Year in 2009.

Piet Hoffman is a police informant, deep undercover, having infiltrated the Polish mafia.  One last mission and the cops will have what they want and Piet can 'retire' into anonymity with his family. The job - go into the worst prison in Sweden and take control of the drug trade. With assurances that they'll try to get him out if things go bad, Piet agrees. But once he's in - he's on his own...

DI Ewert Grens is unaware of Piet Hoffman until his name comes up in a murder case. As Grens follows the threads of his investigation, it leads to more than just a simple murder. Ewert Grens is a character I want to read more of. He is an emotionally wounded man and very eccentric, but also terribly clever.  Past cases are alluded to, but this never detracted from this book as a stand alone.

I couldn't put this one down.  It's a  gritty, gripping read that delves into the shadowy underworld. An intense, intrically plotted story that kept me turning pages. The ending was very clever - loved it.

Three Seconds is now on the New York Times bestseller list. Follow Roslund & Hellström on Twitter and Three Seconds on Facebook.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Giveaway - To Have and To Kill - Mary Jane Clark

I have a brand new hardcover of Mary Jane Clark's latest book - To Have and to Kill - to giveaway!

From the publisher Harper Collins:

"New York Times bestselling author and mystery writer par excellence, Mary Jane Clark kicks off her delicious new Wedding Cake mystery series with To Have and To Kill. A tasty departure from her thrillers featuring KEY News television anchor Eliza Blake (Dying for Mercy, It Only Takes a Moment), To Have and To Kill introduces readers to actress-turned-wedding cake decorator Piper Donovan, who discovers that the heat in the pastry kitchen can be hotter—and deadlier—that she ever imagined…and that her creative new enterprise is anything but a piece of cake. Foodies and fans of cable TV’s Amazing Wedding Cakes, as well as Faye Kellerman, Jayne Anne Krentz, and Diana Mott Davidson readers are going to eat this one up.
New York Times bestselling author Mary Jane Clark delights readers with her tasty new mystery
Piper Donovan never imagined that decorating wedding cakes could be so dangerous! A struggling actress with no immediate prospects and a recently broken engagement, Piper moves back in with her parents to take stock of her life. She steps tentatively into the family bakery business and finds herself agreeing to create a wedding cake for the acclaimed star of a daytime television drama. But soon someone close to the bride-to-be is horribly murdered and it seems that that someone is ruthlessly determined to stop the wedding.

With the help of her former neighbor, Jack, a handsome FBI agent with a soft spot for the gorgeous cake-maker, Piper moves closer to the truth. And as she narrows in on a suspect, she realizes that it's hotter in the kitchen than she may be able to handle. . . . "

To be entered, simply leave a comment. This one is open to all - US, Canada and international. Ends Sat. Feb 19 at 6 pm EST. Good luck and check the sidebar for ongoing giveaways.